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Opposition 'mischief-making' over measures to protect whitebait, says Conservation Minister


Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says the Opposition is "mischief-making" over its claims of an attempt to ban whitebaiting. 

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National's Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie said in a statement last night, "the popular Kiwi pastime of whitebaiting is at risk of being banned if the Minister of Conservation gets her way". 

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"There are absolutely no plans to ban whitebaiting," Ms Sage said. 

"The Conservation (Indigenous Freshwater Fish) Amendment Bill does enable areas of conservation land to be closed to whitebaiting.

"That means native fish can have some rivers and streams where they can swim upstream and spawn without ending up in a net and a whitebait patty.

"Seventy-four per cent of New Zealand's native fish are threatened or at risk of extinction. The whitebait fishery needs better management and the Bill provides the tools to do that and there will be public consultation before any changes are made to the whitebaiting regulations."

Ms Dowie said whitebait "puts food on the table, creates livelihoods and is a recreational pastime".

"The whitebaiting community have already subscribed to voluntary protections of the fishery to assist its sustainability and deserve to have their say on these regulations."